Halloween… or Samhain?

skull_pumpkin

I think it must be true that time speeds up as you get older, for it is pumpkin time again, and it doesn’t seem that long since the last one finally shrivelled and was thrown away.

Here in England we don’t seem to celebrate Halloween with quite the same fervour as other countries, but we try. The shops are full of bright orange pumpkins, both real and plastic, witches cauldrons and all kinds of scary things, I wonder why we enjoy being scared so much?

I don’t think Halloween was originally intended to scare the pants off the population. The word ‘Halloween’ means ‘hallowed or holy evening’ and that day was originally dedicated to remembering the dead and honouring their memory, in readiness for All Souls Day (1st November)which is quite a departure from ghouls, ghosts and scary pumpkins.
I have always believed (I am a bit of a pagan at heart) that it was an ancient Celtic religious festival called Samhain (31st October-1st November) along with Imbolc (31st January-1st February) Beltane (30th April-1st May) and Lughnasadh (31st July-1st August). You will notice that these festivals are meticulously spaced throughout the year, and the equinoxes slot tidily in between and that has to mean something. Not just a scary day if you see what I mean.

There is quite a sad legend about the carved pumpkins or Jack-o-lanterns. A miserly character called Jack was fond of tricking everyone, including the devil, and when he died he was turned away from heaven due to his life of sin.
But the devil wouldn’t let him into hell either and he was cursed to travel the earth for ever.
As he left the gates the hell, the devil threw him a hot ember to light his way. Jack put it inside a hollowed out turnip and the legend was born…

Well, happy Halloween and good luck with your trick or treating whatever your feelings on the subject. I think we human beings are a little obsessed with death because we can’t really understand it, and therefore tend to fear it. But we have discovered over the years that if we make light of this fear with a traditional festival or celebration, we can bring it out into the open where we can all look at it in the company of other people.
And have fun at the same time, of course…

2 thoughts on “Halloween… or Samhain?

  1. Lovely post. I always think it is sad that our children do not know the much deeper meanings and myths of life, fruition and death that were the origin of the ‘stories’ we tell so lightly and with so little reverence. Also, I did not know the origin of the Jack o’Lantern, so thank you for that. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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